Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine

I am the Queen of the Netflix queue in our house. Since S doesn't bother to create/manage online accounts and suggest movies, I get to have all the fun. To his credit, he rarely ever protests about any movie I get. God-given tremendous patience stands him in good stead while watching movies and it is I that usually ends up walking away from a boring movie mid-way through.

I marketed "Little Miss Sunshine" as a comedy movie. It got two Oscars and I saw some good reviews online. Figured it would be a nice evening watch. 20 minutes into the movie, S and J were staring me down asking me what in the world made this a "comedy" movie?!! S said that he only found the movie pathetic, not funny. I turned around for support and found my father staring very intently at the TV screen, hands crossed, brows drawn in concentration.

"Appa, don't you find this funny?"

"I haven't understood a single dialogue in this movie for the past 20 minutes.I am staring at the screen in the hopes I'll get at least a single dialogue before I go to bed."

Doh. Okay. No luck there. Soon S and J bailed out too.

I finally managed to finish the movie yesterday. I have to admit that it wasn't an out-and-out, laugh-out-loud funny movie. It is dark humor all the way through. But watching the antics of the characters on screen, I couldn't help chuckling a couple of times. But toward the end, I was more disturbed and shocked than anything else.

The story revolves around little Olive Hoover. She has a dysfunctional family with a foul-mouthed grandpa, an aggressive father who wants to win at any cost, a homosexual uncle who is recovering from a suicide attempt and a Nietzche-reading brother who has sworn a vow of silence until he becomes a pilot. Olive herself dreams of becoming a beauty queen and the entire family drives her to one such contest called "Little Miss Sunshine".

The final few scenes showed how beauty contests for young children work. It was awful to watch 7 year old kids made up like adults, doing adult-like moves and even looking like them! One of the contestant girls had exactly a doll face (I swear. No exaggeration. It was like watching the doll in "Child's Play" come alive!). And I positively squirmed when Olive decides to do a pseudo strip-tease dance on stage. Ugh.

So, anyway, if you're just looking for a fun movie to watch, please don't pick "Little Miss Sunshine". If you want to get a good dose of reality, then watch this movie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I don't get terribly excited about birthdays. But this year was special because, after a gap of nearly 8 years, my parents and my brother were all around in-person for my birthday. S baked a lovely upside-down pineapple cake which came out totally fluffy and yummy. And he gave me an exquisite, hand-carved gift that took him many hours to finish! This is the most creative gift yet that I've received from him. Thanks, S ! :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chithi, serials and the like..

"Chithi" -- the mega-serial -- marked a watershed moment in Tamil TV serials going from good to tolerable to absolutely nonsensical. There was much hullabaloo in Srirangam when this serial started airing in 1999 (?). The ads had been showing for a good month before the launch and everyone was terribly excited seeing the Srirangam temple elephant in the title song. Folks living in Mainguard gate were enthralled with the shots of Malaikottai and Cauvery. All-in-all, many people in Trichy were going to be glued to the TV come premiere-night.

Rumors floated around that the entire serial was set in Srirangam. My cousin came home with news that her friend's house in East Chithirai Street had been used for filming the first few episodes. Both of us made a slight detour to the said house during one of our shopping trips. We were terribly excited!

Anyway, the serial was good enough for the first few episodes. After that, CJ Bhaskar or someone else decided that the public had no brains and started dishing out crap. Of course, many more crappy serials followed.

The reason for this post is not weepy Tamil soaps but rather, another class of TV serials that seem to be extinct now. I had long ago given up hope on serials until S suggested watching "Rudhra Veenai". I was sceptical initially but started watching anyway. I was totally thrilled with the direction, screenplay and the story! "Marma Desam" and "Vidaadhu Karuppu" followed on my list. Director Naga has done such an excellent job with the lighting, plot, casting and dialogues!

Watching the series made me wonder how we made the descent from the likes of "Marma Desam" into crappy serials like "Selvi". When I was growing up, we used to watch "Kaiyalavu Manasu.." and "Vanna Kolangal" regularly. There were many more classy serials the names of which I can't remember right now. Why are comedy/mystery stories not a main course in the serial fare today? Where have all the good directors gone? Where are all the good stories? Just like they have competitions these days for singing, dancing etc.., someone ought to come up with a forum that'll let directors with innovative story ideas showcase their wares. There's no telling but what in 20 years, I might be sitting at home during the day and I definitely demand better entertainment than weepy soaps! :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


There was a phase during my adolescence when I was on a steady diet of Regency novels. Long before I had even heard the term "chick-lit", I devoured novels by the Queen of 19th century chick-lit -- Georgette Heyer. Set in London or its surroundings, Heyer's heroines are always stylish, witty, adventurous and defiant of 19th century notions of female propriety. One of the ultimate acts of defiance that a stylish 19th century female could conceive of was to drive a perch Phaeton. Considered highly unsuitable for women, it was considered an act of ultimate skill to be able to drive one without overturning it. Not having Google at my disposal then, it was left to my imagination to conjure up what a phaeton might look like and how daring someone might look driving it! Over the course of years, my imagination had built this up to Herculean proportions and I started to believe that someone driving a Phaeton had attained janma sabalyam.

I finally found a real phaeton last week at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed because it looked so timid and normal -- nothing compared to my wild conjectures. I suppose this is what you get when you hit stark reality as opposed to the luxury of imagination :-)